Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Why Are We United Methodist?

Mark 1:17

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amThis is another of my reworked devotionals. Seems some things never change or at least stay the same for a long time. The original post was from 3 years ago – as we had just faced GC2016 and were headed to GC2019. The message from this devotional is still current and accurate as we now head to GC2020.

In today’s climate – this might be a very serious question. Why Am I a United Methodist today?

This is a simple question but it might have complicated answers. Let’s look at a few.

One might answer – because the church I go to is United Methodist. It is the church closest to my home or the church I have always attended. I really haven’t thought of why before but maybe I should.

One might answer – because I grew up in the United Methodist Church. It is the church my parents attended and I have just never thought much about changing or trying another church.

One might answer – because I believe in the method of their theological discernment. Now we’re starting to dive a little deeper. Have any of us thought this deep about our relationship with the denomination we attend.

One might answer – I don’t know! This might be a more common answer than we would like.

One might answer – United Methodist?  You mean I’m United Methodist?

Continue reading

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August 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding Peace In a Noisy World

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

June 2019This is a little different take on the same passage from yesterday. One of the blessings of having a hearing loss is I can put my good ear down on the pillow at bedtime. If people are in the other room talking and I want to get to sleep – I simply place my good ear on the pillow and off to sleep I go. There is a peace and quiet – no matter what is going on around me. It might be why I could fall asleep anywhere as a child – with my parents and others talking up a storm in the same room. I would simply put my good ear down on the floor or a pillow and I could find my happy place – a quiet place to fall asleep. At times I can stay asleep in the morning while others are up and about (even with a bad ear – I have a hard time staying asleep when the wife’s dog goes off though).

My Facebook feed is normally filled with pictures and stories of folks I know that have found peace in one place or another. A while back – a friend – with a foot and lower leg in a cast – shared a picture of him cutting grass on his John Deere – cast in a plastic bag! I know what he meant. When I had my two shoulder surgeries in back to back winters – I couldn’t wait till I could cut my grass. Something about doing something mindless and in the outdoors – is so stress relieving. Some people share pictures of mountain sunsets – beach sunrises – quiet waters – peaceful golf courses – baby animals – mountain top views and more. People enjoying their relaxing time – some quiet time – away from their work and the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. Where is your happy place? Where would you go to find peace and quiet? Continue reading

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Try Loving One Another

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

I wish I had words or a solution for the hatred in the world. I wish there was a person or political party who had the answers or a solution. I wish our country could come together and dismiss the hatred – the racism – the evil – in our country and world today. But I can’t and no one else can – I fear.

Should we have stricter gun laws? Maybe so – but evil people will find a way to perform their evil. Should we make it harder for unstable people to get weapons – absolutely – but who gets to determine who is unstable or mentally ill? Some are very easy to tell – some are well hidden. Should we outlaw assault weapons outside of the military and law enforcement? Maybe that would help – but where would such a law start and end? There are no easy answers and as a former youth pastor friend of mine said – People are more the problem than any gun!

I believe the answer is found in telling more people about Jesus – and letting others see Jesus in us. I believe – if we were more excited and convinced of our faith – we would impact more people for Jesus. Continue reading

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sound Doctrine – It Matters

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

June 2019In this day and age – sound doctrine and truth are under attack – always has been – always will be. The Bible is under attack – and the attacks are not all coming from outside the church. There are whole denominations – pastors – and laity – calling themselves followers of Christ – who are putting aside sound doctrine and truth. There are those who want to redefine sin – creation – and human design. Some want to re-write the Bible or delete parts that don’t sit well with them. Some want a reader’s digest version – one they get to pick and choose from to make up their Bible.

This is not a battle between conservatives and liberals. It is not orthodox folks verses progressive folks. It is Biblical doctrines and truths verses heresy IMHO. God’s Word is not something we can pick and choose – something we can decide to like or dislike with our feeble minds. The Bible is the Word of God – no other definition is needed. The Bible is the sacred text inspired by God and guarded by the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Praying for Our Enemies and Others

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

Life ChangeSo – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? The typical night-time prayer for a child is – God bless mommy and daddy – God bless my brother and sister – and maybe the child might add – God bless my grandma and granddad and my doggy too. We might add prayers for someone sick – for world peace – for that new job we are starting Monday – and other items on our plate. We might even praise God for simply being God. But what about praying for our enemies or for those whom we disagree with – even on important issues – including politics and theology?

My family has four continuous generations of Methodist/United Methodist pastors. We are heaped in Wesleyan theology and practice. Over the last four plus decades (a time that has encompassed my entire time as an ordained minister) – the divide between the left and the right leaning positions in the church has grown. We have debated the Bible and the Book of Discipline (the two rule books of the church). General Conference after General Conference has dealt with numerous issues where the two extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at the 2020 General Conference – the two sides are opposed to one another and at different places in theology and practice. The future of the unity in the UMC is at stake. We are facing schism and more. Some are outwardly definite to the Bible’s teaching and to the instructions of the Book of Discipline – General Conference rulings – and the Judicial Council of the church. Continue reading

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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